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The Bench Press

Mike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time. He explains, that making a program to increase your bench press is pretty simple.

Michigan Football Team

The bench press program I used was simple; the athletes always went up steadily during their careers. The only set backs were the injuries from playing the game of football, which we would eventually overcome.

There were times we would struggle. Some say this is a sticking point. We weren’t stuck we just needed to enjoy the struggle and embrace the hard effort it required to move forward.

Day #1   Monday – 3 sets of 5 repetitions

The Rule:
If you could get 3 sets of 5 reps, you raised the weight 10 pounds.
You always had to get 15 reps in the workout.

If you did not get 3 sets of 5, the rule was make up the repetitions you missed: Say you achieved 5 reps, 4 reps and 3 reps, this meant that you were 3 reps down. You were not allowed to leave the bench press until you made up the 3 reps.

Every Monday the athlete had to get a total of 15 repetitions.

Day #2  Wednesday we practiced 225 for the NFL combine and did 4 sets of as many reps as possible in each set.

Day #3  Friday we practiced 225 for the NFL combine and did 4 sets of as many reps as possible in each set.

The Rule:
If you could bench press 225 – 30 reps, you were to do the 4 sets with 275 pounds instead of 225.

If you could bench press 275 – 30 reps, you were to the 4 sets with 315 pounds instead of 275.

If you were to bench press 315- 30 reps, good job.


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